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January groundbreaking for Atlanta's College Football Hall of Fame

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Groundbreaking for a new College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta is set for January 28, and the first visitors are expected to walk through the doors in August 2014, the National Football Foundation said on Monday.

The Foundation decided three years ago that it was moving the Hall of Fame to Atlanta from South Bend, Indiana, near the campus of the University of Notre Dame, a college football powerhouse. The South Bend facility closed on Sunday.

The new hall, in a highly trafficked section of Atlanta, is expected to attract many more visitors than it did in South Bend, John Christie, executive vice president of Atlanta Hall Management Inc, told Reuters. Atlanta Hall Management is the nonprofit formed to oversee the new facility.

It will be located near Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola museum, and will be within walking distance of the Georgia Dome, where the Atlanta Falcons professional football team plays.

"We have a critical mass of millions visiting the Centennial Park area," Christie said.

The $66.5 million project will be funded with corporate sponsorships while the city of Atlanta and state of Georgia will fund road improvements needed for the new building, said Christie.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Gary Hill)

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